Joseph A. Kuiper

Partner | jkuiper@wnj.com | V-Card | Profile PDF Grand RapidsT 616.752.2481F 616.222.2481 Joe Kuiper is a trial and appellate litigator with almost 16 years' experience representing clients in commercial litigation in state and federal courts and arbitration proceedings. He specializes in assisting clients with their most complex and challenging legal matters, including winning a complete trial victory for a client facing more than $100 million in damages and penalties in a suit brought by the State of Michigan. His experience includes the... Read More

Joe Kuiper is a trial and appellate litigator with almost 16 years' experience representing clients in commercial litigation in state and federal courts and arbitration proceedings. He specializes in assisting clients with their most complex and challenging legal matters, including winning a complete trial victory for a client facing more than $100 million in damages and penalties in a suit brought by the State of Michigan. His experience includes the following types of disputes:

  • Breach of contract
  • UCC disputes between buyers and sellers of goods
  • Insurance coverage
  • Negligence and other torts
  • Business, shareholder, and valuation disputes
  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Environmental litigation
  • Fraud and False Claims Act litigation
  • Constitutional law
  • Challenges to government action and orders

In addition to commercial litigation, Joe is former chair of the firm's Insurance Practice Group, specializing in pursuing coverage claims on behalf of policyholders. In this role, he provides expert and practical advice to clients regarding risk management issues, performs policy reviews, and pursues coverage claims against insurers. He has obtained millions of dollars in insurance coverage for business and individual clients following favorable court decisions and settlements involving nearly every type of policy and claim.

Before joining the firm, Joe served as a law clerk to the Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a published author with over 20 articles covering a range of commercial and insurance litigation matters.

  • Experience
  • Biography
  • News
  • Publications
  • Leadership

Experience

  • Uses extensive knowledge of state and federal court procedure to win early dismissal of suits brought against clients based on lack of jurisdiction or venue, forum selection clauses, and pleadings challenges
  • Successful representation of AAR Corp. in suit brought by State of Michigan seeking over $100 million in damages and penalties for alleged groundwater contamination. Obtained complete victory on all claims following 4 years of litigation and 3-week trial
  • Counsel to minority shareholder in stock-valuation and shareholder oppression suit. Handled all aspects of discovery, briefing, and arbitration obtaining $3 million award. (Gilchrist v Global Manufacturing & Assembly Corp. (AAA 2004)).  Successfully defended post-arbitration motions to vacate and modify the award
  • Successfully defended orthopaedic surgeon in False Claims Act suit brought by a former competitor alleging Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Won early dismissal of suit based on failure to comply with pleadings standards for fraud claims. (Laucirica v. Stryker Corp., et al.)
  • Represented manufacturer in suit against supplier for breach of purchase agreement. Achieved favorable settlement after winning summary judgment on all of supplier's defenses. (Hastings v. Melton)
  • Represented client in Michigan court for alleged breach of agreement to purchase airplane. Persuaded court to dismiss case based on lack of personal jurisdiction when suit was only 1 month old, saving client significant litigation costs. (Triple SSS v. Adkison)
  • Successful representation of majority shareholders in case of first impression involving valuation of minority interest in closely-held LLC following squeeze-out merger. Obtained favorable settlement following mediation. (Netshape v. Anthony Jackson)
  • Represented manufacturer of jet engine components in breach of contract suit brought by buyer. Negotiated settlement resolving dispute and preserving the parties’ business relationship. (Williams International Co., LLC v. Woodward Governor Company)
  • Successfully litigated declaratory judgment action against primary and excess insurer, seeking coverage for environmental pollution claims under CGL policies going back several decades. Obtained favorable settlement resulting in payment of nearly all of client's defense costs, totaling millions of dollars, despite the presence of a pollution exclusion in the policies
  • Litigated coverage claim against excess insurer for copyright infringement claims under CGL policies. Obtained favorable settlement after persuading court to reject all of insurer's defenses
  • Successful representation of Luverne Fire Apparatus (now Crimson Fire) in UCC breach of contract suit involving allegedly nonconforming firetrucks built for City of Cincinnati
  • Successful representation of policyholder in coverage suit for business interruption and other costs following a fire that required the relocation of a gas station. Obtained favorable settlement following mediation. (Wesco, Inc. v. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company)
  • Represented policyholder in case seeking coverage under property policy for home destroyed by freezing pipes. (Whirlpool Corp. v. Auto Owners)
  • Represent companies challenging environmental investigation, clean-up, and other orders involving tens of millions of dollars
  • Counsel to distributors' association in suit with excess insurer seeking coverage for damages arising from copyright infringement.  Successfully persuaded trial court to reject insurer's motion for summary judgment based on theory of horizontal exhaustion.  (ADBA v. Northfield Insurance Co. (W.D. Mich. 2001))
  • Counsel to distributors' group in insurance coverage suit successfully obtaining reversal of summary judgment in appeal before U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which become first court in nation to bind excess insurer to undisclosed changes made to renewal policy by primary insurer.  (ADBA v. Northfield Insurance Co. 323 F.3d 386 (6th Cir. 2003))
  • Counsel for Amway Corporation successfully persuading trial court to grant summary judgment in suit alleging fraud, breach of contract, and violation of state law.  (Touchton v. Amway Corp.).  Judgment upheld on appeal.  
  • Worked with team of WN&J attorneys successfully persuading Michigan Supreme Court to grant leave to appeal in case of first impression involving validity of Indian gambling compacts under State law
  • Successful Michigan Supreme Court representation in case of first impression involving challenge to a managed care no-fault insurance option
  • Successful representation of Spartan Motors Corporation obtaining favorable settlement in UCC breach of contract dispute with supplier
  • Counsel for citizens groups in two federal court actions opposing construction of tribal casinos in rural communities.  Successfully persuaded trial courts to order Department of Interior to perform new environmental assessments under National Environmental Policy Act
  • Successful representation of estate of deceased driver in suit against automobile underinsurance carrier. Obtained summary disposition and successfully defended judgment on appeal

Industries

Practices

Education

  • University of Illinois J.D. 1997 magna cum laude
  • Hope College B.A. 1993 summa cum laude

Admitted

  • 1998, Michigan

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Clerk Experience

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr.

Honors and Awards

  • Order of the Coif
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Univ. of Illinois Law Review, Articles Editor
  • Rickert 3L awards for oral advocacy, legal writing, and student publications
  • National Moot Court Team; awarded Best Brief and advanced to final round of University of Illinois Moot Court Competition
  • First Prize, Judge John R. Brown National Legal Writing Competition (1997)
  • John Holly Rapp academic scholarship
  • Hope College Student Congress President/Vice-President

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Litigation Section; Appellate Practice Committee, Council of Appellate Lawyers; Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section
  • Federal Bar Association
    W.D. of Michigan Chapter: Executive Committee (2005-Present); Editor of Western District Bar & Bench Newsletter (2005-Present)
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Litigation Section; Appellate Practice Section; Insurance and Indemnity Law Section, Co-chair of Insurance Law Committee
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association

Publications

Blog Posts

Professional Affiliations

  • Defense Research Institute
    Litigation and Appellate Advocacy Committees
  • Council of Appellate Lawyers
    Publications Committee (2003-06)

Community Affiliations

  • Aberdeen Reformed Church
    Member; pro bono counsel
  • North End Community Ministries
    Board of Directors (2007-Present); Vice President (2010-Present)
  • Grand Rapids Youth Soccer
    Coach (2005-Present)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
    Past pro bono counsel

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